Hand-lettered on lined paper like Moss’ hugely popular Amelia’s Notebook (1995) and its sequels, this series is likely to...

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THE NAME GAME!

From the Daphne's Diary of Daily Disasters series , Vol. 1

On her first day of fourth grade, Daphne starts a diary that quickly becomes one of doodles and disasters and sets up a new series by the creator of Amelia.

In this series opener, her teacher, Ms. Underwood, mispronounces her name when calling the roll, so that classmates—except best friend Kaylee—are calling her Daffy. The very slim plot involves Daphne's discovery that the name game has happened to others. Her solution is to nickname her teacher, but she realizes that she’s not the first to call her teacher Mrs. Underwear. The first-person narrative includes familiar middle-grade scenes—a trip to the orthodontist and the boredom of watching her younger brothers’ soccer practice—sketches of people and things, even rebuses. In a companion story that publishes simultaneously, The Vampire Dare, her vampire costume turns out to be a disaster, prompting classmates to claim she has cooties. Again Daphne turns the tide by transferring the onus to a cootie-catching old doll. This light reading is made even lighter by the fact that the last quarter of each volume is taken up with extra material: lists and sketches of name disasters in the first and costume disasters in the second.

Hand-lettered on lined paper like Moss’ hugely popular Amelia’s Notebook (1995) and its sequels, this series is likely to appeal to the same middle-grade audience but feels a touch too familiar. (Graphic fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1738-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Contrived at some points, polemic at others, but a stout defense of the right to read.

BAN THIS BOOK

A shy fourth-grader leads the revolt when censors decimate her North Carolina school’s library.

In a tale that is dominated but not overwhelmed by its agenda, Gratz takes Amy Anne, a young black bibliophile, from the devastating discovery that her beloved From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler has been removed from the library at the behest of Mrs. Spencer, a despised classmate’s mom, to a qualified defense of intellectual freedom at a school board meeting: “Nobody has the right to tell you what books you can and can’t read except your parents.” Meanwhile, as more books vanish, Amy Anne sets up a secret lending library of banned titles in her locker—a ploy that eventually gets her briefly suspended by the same unsympathetic principal who fires the school’s doctorate-holding white librarian for defiantly inviting Dav Pilkey in for an author visit. Characters frequently serve as mouthpieces for either side, sometimes deadly serious and other times tongue-in-cheek (“I don’t know about you guys, but ever since I read Wait Till Helen Comes, I’ve been thinking about worshipping Satan”). Indeed, Amy Anne’s narrative is positively laced with real titles that have been banned or challenged and further enticing teasers for them.

Contrived at some points, polemic at others, but a stout defense of the right to read. (discussion guide) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8556-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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